10 Signs of Malawi President Chakwera’s Dictatorial Tendencies

Lazarus Chakwera Malawi

Fears have erupted among discerning Malawians that President Chakwera is becoming a dictator with each passing day. This is not surprising, given his background as a pastor, where he held the position of President of Assemblies of God in Malawi for 25 years.

Unfortunately, unlike in religious circles where orders are followed by faith without counter logic and reasoning, in politics, it is normal for politicians to hold dissenting views.

This article features 10 signs that substantiate President Chakwera is gradually sliding toward becoming a notorious dictator.

1. Chakwera’s Suspicious Handling of Vice President Saulos Chilima’s Plane Crash

    Former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” The way the Chakwera government handled the search for Chilima’s crashed plane has prompted some Malawians to concur with Roosevelt’s assertions.

    The missing plane of a very important figure, Vice President Chilima, should have been treated with utmost urgency. Why did the search operation start over four hours after the reported plane crash? Why was the search operation abandoned for the whole night, bearing in mind that the Vice President’s plane was incommunicado?

    William Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, “To be thus is nothing but to be safely thus.” In other words, being the Vice President of Malawi is meaningless if safety is not guaranteed.

    Malawians are in dire need of answers surrounding Chilima’s demise, considering the power struggle between the deceased and President Chakwera within their Tonse Alliance pact.

    2. The Unceremonious Arrest of ACB Director General, Ms. Martha Chizuma

      For the first time in Malawian history, the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Martha Chizuma, was unceremoniously arrested in her own sleeping attire.

      What was startling is that President Chakwera, the Commander in Chief of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service, Mrs. Yolamu, and the Minister of Homeland Security, Ken Zikhale, feigned ignorance of this high-profile public officer’s arrest.

      The truth is that President Chakwera later promoted the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr. Stevie Kayuni, to Principal Secretary in the Civil Service for successfully masterminding Chizuma’s arrest.

      3. Unjustified Arrests of Investigative Journalists and Whistleblowers

        In this digital age, information is power. Advances in dynamic technology have accelerated the expeditious dissemination of such information.

        Unfortunately, it is in the blood of a dictator to ensure that some classified information does not reach the citizenry.

        It is therefore not surprising that the Chakwera regime has unjustifiably arrested journalists and whistleblowers such as Gregory Gondwe, Macmillan Mhone, Bon Kalindo, and many others.

        However, gagging journalists and whistleblowers used to work during a single-party regime. With advances in technology and democracy, it is futile to silence human rights activists, journalists, and whistleblowers.

        4. Promotion of Nepotism and Appeasement Policy

          Dictators don’t trust anyone unless they are dealing with people from their families, tribes, religions, or political affiliations.

          It is therefore not surprising that President Chakwera has massively offered job opportunities to his relatives and MCP stalwarts. For instance, it is confirmed by highly placed sources that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is partly filled with MCP sympathizers.

          Dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Brother Leader Gadaffi were safely surrounded by a cohort of trusted relatives and tribesmen who could not easily leak classified information.

          I am not surprised when MCP sympathizers concede Chakwera’s failure to manage our ailing economy, but they vehemently promise that they will still vote President Chakwera into power.

          5. Chakwera’s Deliberate Flouting of Normal Procedures and Regulations

            Many Malawians are aware that dictators have no respect for the rule of law.

            Upon ascending to power, President Chakwera flouted normal procedures by appointing Acting Chief Executive Officer John Biziwiki outside the ranks of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). Unfortunately, this anomaly was not legally challenged.

            Carried away with absolute power, President Chakwera went ahead to appoint an outsider, Retired Brigadier Charles Kalumo, to head the Department of Immigration. Fortunately, this anomalous appointment was legally challenged, and the court ordered the invalidation of Kalumo’s appointment.

            6. Unreasonable Calls for Chakwera to be Malawi’s Life President in a Multiparty Democracy

              It is widely believed that dictators are not created but made. In other words, it is the political party diehards who change the thinking of political leaders to believe it is possible to be a dictator.

              What infuriated the late Saulos Chilima were calls from MCP stalwarts that President Chakwera would not only stand as a presidential candidate in 2025 but would also rule Malawi forever. This declaration is unreasonable in a multiparty democracy.

              7. Political Violence

                During the MCP single-party era, many Malawians lived in perpetual fear for their lives because any dissenting views were brutally silenced by the notorious Malawi Young Pioneer paramilitary group.

                It is very unfortunate that incidents of political violence have resurfaced during the Chakwera regime.

                In this democratic dispensation, all political parties have the right to conduct political campaigns anywhere in Malawi. Reports that some Aford members were beaten and their phones smashed by alleged MCP diehards for conducting a political rally in the MCP stronghold of Mponela are very disheartening.

                8. Allegations of Resurrecting the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Paramilitary Faction

                  During one National Assembly session, an opposition party member of parliament asked the then Minister of Homeland Security, Hon. Richard Chimwendo Banda, if the allegations were true that the ruling MCP was training paramilitary youths at Mtakataka Police Training Station. Disappointingly, without refuting such allegations, the Minister simply warned the House that it was not proper to discuss issues of national security.

                  A month later, Malawians were surprised to see MCP youths clad in military attire escorting President Chakwera at a function in Lilongwe. Some Malawians have tried to connect the dots to the escalating political violence that erupted in Dowa, where some Aford members were brutally beaten.

                  9. Duping Malawians with Promises to Reduce Presidential Powers

                    Contrary to campaign promises that President Chakwera would reduce presidential powers, President Chakwera still enjoys massive presidential prerogatives and powers.

                    For instance, President Chakwera still has the prerogative of appointing the Director General of the ACB. Four years down the line, the Chakwera government has shown no political will to make the ACB independent from political interference.

                    Contrary to campaign promises, President Chakwera remains the Chancellor of many public universities, including the University of Malawi, Mzuzu University, and the Malawi University of Science and Technology, among others.

                    Furthermore, the President still appoints the board of directors of various statutory corporations and public institutions.

                    The late Vice President Saulos Chilima has passed away before his call to remove presidential immunity came to fruition.

                    Ironically, President Chakwera is on record for abusing his presidential powers by pardoning corruption convicts such as Uladi Mussa and corruption suspects like Bakili Muluzi and the late Vice President Chilima.

                    It remains mind-boggling why President Chakwera has chosen to dishonor his campaign promises of reducing presidential powers.

                    10. Moves to Slide Malawi Back to a Single-Party System

                      Upon its ascendancy to power, the MCP-led government’s first agenda was to destabilize the main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

                      Through the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mrs. Gotani Hara, MCP chose Kondwani Nankhumwa as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. This move created a pandemonium of power struggle within the DPP. As a result, the DPP spent more time and effort resolving intraparty squabbles than providing stringent checks and balances on the Chakwera regime.

                      Worse still, the formation of the new party, DPD, in the DPP stronghold by the disgruntled Kondwani Nankhumwa will weaken the main opposition party further. It is MCP’s expectation that all weak opposition parties will die a natural death.

                      In conclusion, civil society organizations, human rights activists, members of the clergy, the legislature, the judiciary, opposition parties, the international community, and all citizens are urged to provide checks and balances on the Chakwera regime so that human rights, freedoms, and democratic values are respected at all times.